Did President Obama barely squeak into office with little more than half of the popular vote by attacking Mitt Romney’s character instead of running on his record?
Or did the president earn a mandate with a generous margin of electoral votes, winning all but two swing states by reaching out to the future of America: Hispanics, women, and gays?
That was the debate Tuesday morning between political strategists Haley Barbour and Terry McAuliffe, both former chairmen of their respective parties’ national committees.
Barbour refuted the idea that President Obama earned even the smallest mandate with his victory. “He got 51% of the vote by making his opponent appear unacceptable. He didn’t run on his record because he couldn’t run on his record. It was personal—Romney was the quintessential plutocrat married to a known equestrian.”
McAuliffe countered, citing the president’s huge electoral advantage at the end of Election Day. “If Obama is as awful as you say, why did he win with 100 more electoral votes than Romney? All but two swing states went to Obama, and the democrats netted two more seats in the Senate and eight in the House. I’d say that’s a good night.”
It wasn’t all discord Tuesday morning: Both Barbour and McAuliffe called sequestration, a series of potential automatic government spending cuts, a “disgrace.”
“It’s time to break down the ideological barriers and stop the rhetoric,” McAuliffe said. “We need to force legislators to get in the same room and work things out. It’s no longer a democrat or republican issue.”
“Sequestration is a mark of shame,” Barbour added, blaming the Democrat-led Senate for not passing a budget in three years. “Twice last year, the republican House passed measures to end sequestration. This is a fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans.”